Study Guide

We Were Liars Study Guide

By E. Lockhart

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We Were Liars Introduction

We Were Liars isn't just a beach read; it's a read about a beach. But wait—before you dismiss it as summer blockbuster fluff, we think you should know that it got starred reviews from all the major book reviewers, including Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and School Library Journal. Teens and adults alike are raving about it on Goodreads, and The New York Times declared it a "ticking time bomb of a novel" with an "irresistible premise." So yeah, it's definitely more than fluff.

The name E. Lockhart will be familiar to fans of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which was nominated for both the Printz Award and the National Book Award. Lockhart's a master of strong female characters, and Cadence Sinclair Eastman—our leading lady in We Were Liars, Lockhart's 2014 novel—is no exception, even though she's physically weak from a terrible accident that left her with amnesia.

That's right: Something awful happened, and Cadence doesn't remember it. But she's determined to figure it out, and when she does, she's determined to live it down.

Memory loss might seem like a bit of a cliché, but Lockhart elevates it beyond a convenient plot device, using it to toy with the conventional teen romance model. Love is in the air in We Were Liars, but it's also a mystery, and the desire to know what's happened to Cadence (and Gat) will keep you turning pages. And as you do, the beauty of Lockhart's words will make you remember this story of a girl who forgets.

What is We Were Liars About and Why Should I Care?

Teenage lies, a few of which you may or may not have told yourself, can be pretty sinister. We're thinking of things like someone claiming to be your best friend while talking about you behind your back, or the person you're dating cheating but insisting they're not. Even these horrible lies, however, pale in comparison to the ones Cadence Sinclair is dealing with.

First of all, her grandfather keeps promising the family fortune to her mother, then turning around and promising it to her aunts. Her dad left and moved across the country because being a Sinclair-by-marriage felt like living a lie. But the worst untruths of all are the ones surrounding her cousins. They seem to be "living, breathing human beings" when they're, well… not.

Having suffered a traumatic brain injury, Cadence has to depend on other people for the truth, but she's not sure who's actually telling it. In the end, the only person who can put the pieces together is Cadence herself.

So while you might not have hit your head on a pile of rocks, you've no doubt had to figure stuff out for yourself before. If you're currently trying to make sense of what other people say, how they say it, and how much you can believe, let Cadence serve as proof that it's possible to find the truth in a web of lies. Even if you—yourself—are at the root of some of them.

We Were Liars Resources


E is for Emily
Here's E. Lockhart's website, with links to everything you could ever want to know. Well, about her books, anyway. Everything you want to know about, say, ancient Greece is housed elsewhere on the Internet.

The Boyfriend List
Lockhart gets other authors to list their exes on her blog.


The Lowdown on the Movie Version
Good news: Lockhart wrote the script for We Were Liars, the movie.


Publishers Weekly Breaks it Down
Why, exactly, is Lockhart so good at YA literature? Here's Publishers Weekly's take.

Kirkus Reviews Talks to Lockhart About Romance
No cheesy love stories for Lockhart, thankyouverymuch. She had something else in mind for Cadence and Gat.

The American Library Association Asks Tough Questions
Leave it to a bunch of librarians to get Lockhart to reveal what was hard for her about being a teen.


The Google Play Interview
Lockhart's worst moment as an author "happens every day when I look at the blank page."

The Amazon Books Interview
What are Lockhart's favorite twisty, turny books? Find out here.

The Goodreads Interview
Lockhart tells us who her favorite creative person is. (Hint: it's a musician.) You can also see her tattoos and what she writes on the backs of her hands.


Audiobook Excerpt
Here's the beginning of We Were Liars, as read by Ariadne Meyers.

Random House Audio
Here's where you can listen to audiobook excerpts of Lockhart's other novels and choose your next favorite.


Where Was Cuddledown, Again?
Need a map of Beechwood Island and the Sinclair family tree? Tumblr, per usual, has you covered.

Would You Like a Hand With That?
Just like Cadence and Gat, Lockhart writes on her hands.

Here You Go, Raquel
Cadence finds Gat stuffing dried beach roses into an envelope for his girlfriend. Here's what they look like.

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